Caregivers need someone to care.

I met an old man who came to the ER late at night for a problem that was not even close to being life-threatening but which needed medical attention.  It was a problem that had developed over some time.  Why here?  At this hour?  Surely at 81 you have a primary care physician.  It wasn’t until discharging him that I finally figured out why he was    here,   now.    This was the only time he could get away from the house; while his wife with dementia was sound asleep on her night-time pills.

I met a man who had gotten up early, had taken care of his wife, then drove his hour to work but had chest pain.  He left work and drove the hour back to his home town so he could go to a hospital close to home.  With chest pains persistent.   And he hesitated to go to the place in the big city to see the interventive cardiologist that he really needed.  He said    “I can’t leave my wife alone overnight, and there’s no one else to care for her.”  He put his own comfort, and his own life, on the line because he didn’t know of any options for the care of his wife.  He was so isolated in his situation that he couldn’t even think through what would happen with her if he didn’t get the treatment he needed.

Ann Voskamp   { }   writes,   “The man with the wife who wouldn’t leave her house anymore, he’d told me there was only so much that he could take.      I had no idea what to say to that.       Sometimes words can’t resuscitate like silence can.  So I’d nodded.  And I hoped he heard my wordlessness pounding hard on heaven’s door for him, pounding hard on lungs to just inhale a bit of hope, and I’d seen it in his eyes.     Because it can feel like that: When you are giving everything you have, you can only take so much.”

So here’s my proposal:  Let us establish a  Driver & Sitter Service.   Us,  as in church and community folks who are able & trustworthy to do the job.  Volunteer to be the sitters for the folks with dementia so that the care-givers can get out of the house for doctor visits, shopping, lunch with a friend, a walk in the park…  and volunteers to drive them to the places they need to go if transportation is needed.  Sometimes the car isn’t needed, but a person to drive you home from the doctor’s office is.

Oh how I would love to have a list of the volunteer “army” of caregiver substitutes at my fingertips;   when I find the older couple in situations where the more-functional one has medical issues,  or when the working mom has a sick child who can’t go to daycare and doesn’t have a grandma available.

Would you play  Parcheesi and make lunch with someone who can no longer count or eat without a bib?   Would you make your home and heart open on a moment’s notice for a little one full of cough and snot and fever and vomit?

I can’t think of a better way to be “Christ with skin”.

Let’s get together and MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!!

One thought on “Caregivers need someone to care.

  1. Excellent, excellent points, Marty. While my work schedule doesn’t usually allow me the kind of flexibility to help people at a moment’s notice, I feel like I put a toe into this arena as a patient volunteer through a local hospice organization. So far, my assigned patients have all been nursing home residents, yet I hope that their families can be more at peace knowing that others are checking on their loves ones regularly as well.

    Maybe you should start something in Mayes County…

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